In a heartening move toward better suburban planning, a questionable $324 million proposal to redevelop the Metcalf South Shopping Center and the former Kmart center is now in limbo in Overland Park.
The city’s planning staff deserves credit for showing some backbone in denying the original rezoning request from Lane4 Property Group and the Kroenke Group.
That decision did not sit well with the developers. Last week, they “regretfully” withdrew their Central Square idea, saying the “market” of the real world would not support the wishes of the planning staff.
For now, it’s a standoff. But a more suitable project will emerge in the end.
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Overland Park city officials want something vibrant and new at a key intersection — 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue. The city has a Vision Metcalf plan that calls for high-quality, mixed-use redevelopment with walking trails and public spaces along the avenue. The plan is seen as a key way to bring new life to the city north of Interstate 435.
The developers, who may be hoping city officials will blink and reverse course because of the abrupt “death” of the original plan, still have good reasons to pursue reusing the property to make an eventual profit on the deal.
The Lane4/Kroenke proposal included lots of retail space — including at least one big-box store — as well as several hundred housing units, office space, walking trails and outdoor gathering areas.
In early August, the city plan staff acknowledged that parts of the proposal fit into the scope of Vision Metcalf but concluded that the developers had missed the mark in too many key ways. Among the criticisms:
▪ “The big box on the south and its massive parking lot dominate the redevelopment in a negative way.”
▪ “Surface parking continues to be the dominant feature in this development,” missing chances to “tuck a portion of parking under a building or design structured garages with multiple entry points at each level.”
▪ “Additional density and more residential units would contribute to the vitality of development.”
▪ “Additional streetscape components and a larger, public gathering space are necessary to contribute to creating a quality place that will stand the test of time.”
The next redevelopment proposal for the sites along Metcalf — and yes, there will be one — likely will again test Overland Park’s ability to stand up for superior use of suburban spaces.